The Town of Hillsborough is experiencing a Stage 1 water shortage, calling for voluntary reduction on water usage.
The lack of any significant rainfall in the past month and current construction to enlarge Hillsborough’s reservoir caused the shortage, according to a press release the town issued on Sept. 25.
The lack of rainfall has reduced the amount of water that can be withdrawn from the Eno River, which is an imperative source of water for the town when it is purified and piped to Hillsborough properties.
“With the available water supply in Lake Orange and the West Fork Eno Reservoir, the town has approximately 165 days of water,” the release said.
The town will implement mandatory restrictions should the water supply fall below 135 days.
At this stage, residents are asked to reduce their water usage by nearly 10 percent to help conserve water during this shortage period. Authorities at the Orange Water and Sewer Authority are collaborating with town officials to prevent the shortage from evolving into higher shortage stages, said Cheryl Sadgrove, the public information specialist for Hillsborough.
Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens recommended multiple workarounds for residents to help alleviate the shortage.
"First, avoid unessential water use, like washing the car or powerwashing the deck. Second, reduce how you use water for essential activities, for example take shorter showers or flush less often. Finally, this is a great time to go ahead and install water saving devices in your home or fix that drip from the faucet," Stevens said in an email.
Residents using spray irrigation systems should limit their usage, and the town’s officials have assigned particular days in which consumers can use their spray systems. Odd-numbered properties can spray on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Even-numbered properties may spray on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“The reservoir’s existing water level has had to be maintained about 4 to 5 feet lower than normal, equating to an estimated 88 days of less available capacity while the Phase II expansion is underway,” the press release said.
In regards to hand washing, car washing and similar uses, the town has mandated the use of shut-off nozzles for hoses while the irrigation systems should contain moisture sensors. Through community collaboration, water can be preserved until the town experiences more rain.
Todd Taylor, the general manager of operations at OWASA, emphasized the importance of collaborative conservation during times of shortage. His message was simple.
“You want to conserve water as much as possible," Taylor said.